Thursday, April 4, 2013

Crackpot Invokes Sovereign Citizen Defense After Being Pinched For Allegedly Using Bogus Docs To Hijack Vacant 12-Bedroom Mansion Currently Up For Sale By Out-Of-Town Homeowner

In Bethesda, Maryland, The Washington Post reports:

  • Like many people excited about a new home, Lamont Butler invited friends over to check his out. He had a lot to show them. The Bethesda mansion is among the largest in the region and featured floors of imported marble, 12 bedroom suites, six kitchens and a history of playing host to political gatherings, including ones during which Bill Clinton and Al Gore helped plant trees out back.

    But the personable 28-year-old, known to wear a red fez, didn’t own the mansion; he had simply slipped inside and claimed it.

    Taking part in an odd and perplexing phenomenon popping up in cities across the country, Butler said the Bethesda mansion belonged to him because he is a Moorish American National. He’d drawn up paperwork that he said proved it all, with references to a 1787 peace treaty and the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.

    When a man broke into an unoccupied six million dollar Bethesda mansion and claimed it on behalf of “Moorish Nation,” realtors and police alike were confused by the bizarre sequence of events.

    Montgomery County police call Butler’s stay in the mansion, which lasted only a few hours, something entirely different from a legitimate claim: breaking and entering, fraud and attempted theft. They say it is one of the most audacious local cases in what law enforcement officers called a growing national trend where self-described “sovereign” nationals try to move into homes they don’t own.

    This month in Memphis, a woman saying she was a Moorish American was evicted after a SWAT team moved in on a 9,000-square-foot mansion she said she owned. Tabitha Gentry was charged with trespassing and burglary, but in court she denied the legitimacy of the charges, repeatedly interrupted the judge and invoked her sovereign rights.

    Similar cases have occurred around the nation, where sovereign nationals have slipped into empty houses, sometimes going unnoticed for a week or two, authorities say.

    “It’s going on in every state,” said Kory Flowers, an investigator with the Greensboro, N.C., police and a national expert on sovereign groups.
  • Rashid Chaudary wasn’t thinking about sovereigns in 1995 when he moved into his new Bethesda home, which was worthy of the most lavish Washington occasions. The cosmetics company millionaire’s guests mingled on two levels. On warm nights, they could walk onto a series of limestone terraces with sweeping views of a hillside of trees.

    Several years ago, after Chaudary’s children were old enough to leave home, he and his wife moved to Chicago, where his company, Raani Corp., is based. They put the mansion on the market. “If only a palace will do,” one of the online real-state listings said, “this is your home.”

    It was a well-publicized target for Butler, a resident of Charles County who by last year was calling himself Lamont Maurice El, police say. Butler appeared in court last week, where he said that the charges against him are only allegations and that he is not a criminal. He also invoked his status as a Moorish national.

    “I only have one free national name. That is Lamont Maurice El,” he said.

    District Judge Eugene Wolfe ordered Butler held on $20,000 bond, which Butler posted shortly after the court hearing. He was released last week.

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